Namibia: Land of Contrasts

Namibia is well known as the Land of Contrasts, which is indicative of its dramatic landscapes that morph from red desert to wild coast, boulder mountains, salt pans, wetlands, and euphorbia scrub. This once German-occupied country is the home of wild horses, desert adapted lions and elephants, skeletal trees and dormant riverbeds, iconic sand dunes, and the Skeleton Coast. Etosha National Park is Namibia’s most famous wildlife area, and it is where you will find some of the greatest diversities of wildlife in one place. Picture elephants, lions, oryx, springboks, zebras, gnus, jackals, ostriches, and black rhino all in one place - and that’s not even mentioning the birds! Damaraland is where lion, black rhino, elephant, and giraffe roam with incredible resistance to drought, and the Skeleton Coast sees the meeting point of the Namibi Desert with the rough Atlantic Ocean strewn with ancient shipwrecks and a population of Cape fur seals, which are famously preyed upon by lions. Spitzkoppe, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, skydiving, star-gazing, and safari; Namibia is different from anywhere else in Africa, and is so worth a visit on its own, or in combination with South Africa and/or Botswana.

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park has worldwide fame as the place of the “white elephants”, which gather at waterholes alongside herds of springbok, wildebeest, and oryx, ostrich, and a host of others. The critically endangered black rhino is often seen in Etosha as it is one of the last remaining strongholds for this species. Lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah are the dominant predators of the area, while birds of prey lurk and swoop down on smaller animals and birds drinking at the populated waterholes. This park is known to facilitate some of the best wildlife interactions in Southern Africa with excellent visibility due to the lack of bulky vegetation.

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Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei, translating directly to “dead-end marsh” is located in the south of Namibia, 60km inland from the Atlantic Ocean within the enormous Namib-Naukluft National Park. The area is characterised by the flat, white salt and clay pan that is surrounded by high rise, red sand dunes, which block the flow of the Tsauchab River. These dunes are some of the highest in the world, some reaching up to 400m, and they are perhaps some of the most photographed in the world too. The attractions surrounding Sossusvlei include Sesriem Canyon, Dune 45, Big Daddy, Hiddenvlei, and Dead Vlei. This majestic region of Namibia can not be missed!

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Zambezi Region

Formerly known as the Caprivi Strip, the Zambezi Region was renamed in 2014 to reflect the natural ecosystem of this highly fertile strip of land in the very north of Namibia, which branches eastwards to border Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. The Chobe, Kwando, Linyanti, and Zambezi Rivers all feed off and into the Zambezi Region making it a wetland paradise full of fantastic birdlife and attracting a broad array of southern Africa’s wildlife species, including elephant, buffalo, lion, roan, kudu, zebra, while populations of sitatunga and red lechwe, while spotted-necked otter, hippo and crocodile inhabit the waterways.

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Skeleton Coast

“The Land God Made in Anger” is what the Khoisan people historically called this harsh and unforgiving region of Namibia, but the Skeleton Coast is in itself an apt description of this untamed stretch of desert on Namibia’s northern coast. The Atlantic Ocean is rough and collides with the desolated, sandy shores with vigour, while intimidating dunes rise up to meet the waves. It is a truly astonishing part of the world inhabited by desert-adapted animals. The Kaokoland Conservancy is the protected area inland of the Skeleton Coast where a handful of lodges offer specialised visits to this unusual paradise.

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Damaraland

Damaraland is one of the most underrated wilderness areas in Southern Africa. Its scenery changes as we move northwards, incorporating the rocky boulders of Spitzkoppe and the rolling mountain ranges of the Brandberg and Erongo in the south and morphing into the flat “stone desert” in the north, where the pure ruggedness of the countryside is astonishing. This is northwestern Namibia, spanning across to the Skeleton Coast in the west, and up to the Kunune River in the north.

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Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and the second-largest in the world (after, you guessed it, the Grand Canyon). This staggeringly beautiful and breath-taking landscape is located in the south of the country, where the Fish River flows towards the Orange River. It is a popular hiking destination, and rightly so. We love the Fish River Canyon for its mesmerising chasms, and in the dry season, the river’s remaining puddles that shimmer along the hiking trails on the floor of the canyon while the textured walls of this eroded rock rise around us.

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